Labour has been the governing party for only 33 of the last 100 years and the 6 May election results give little indication that Labour will be governing again any time soon.
Meanwhile, the Tory party continues to govern with a large majority of parliamentary seats, but with a minority of the popular vote.
John Rentoul correctly observes that “Remainers are lukewarm about Labour, with a tendency to drift off to the Greens and the Liberal Democrats“.
As things stand, Labour or, indeed, any party other than the Conservative party, has no chance of governing, particularly if and after Scotland becomes independent, and the majority who do not vote Conservative face the prospect of a lifetime of Tory rule.
So is it not time for the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties to bury the historical hatchet and agree to form a new social democratic left of centre party that, together, might be able to attract enough votes to prevent Tory rule for perpetuity?
Cost of gunboats
Obviously only a fool would have ever believed that the NHS was going to be £350 million a week better off as a consequence of Brexit but, just for the sake of comparison, I wonder how much it costs to send two gunboats out to intercept fishing vessels off the coast of France?
We now have a generation or more of voters who have little or no memory or experience of a Labour government, so referring back to the "achievements of the Blair years" are increasingly irrelevant.
However, Labour metro mayors and Labour in Wales have now been operating successfully for many years. UK Labour needs to use these experiences and successes as examples and building blocks for the future. The vote in these areas has held reasonably steady, so clearly voters find satisfaction with what is happening there, just as voters in Tees Valley are happy with the Tory mayor.
Labour should push for greater regional devolution in England. We are already seeing that metro mayors are powerful figures. In the changing Labour Party, they should be written into the rule book and become figures of influence.
The Labour movement was always wider than just the Labour Party but that breadth has been diminished over many decades. It would be a different kind of breadth to engage with party leaders in Scotland, Wales and the metro mayors, but it would show what able politicians are achieving under the Labour banner across the UK.
To go down this road would require the UK Labour leader not only to devolve some power themselves but also to have strong partnership skills. These are times of dramatic political change and the UK Labour party needs to get up to speed.
John E Harrison
Downing Street refurb
Looks like it’s curtains for Sir Keir, not Boris.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood might not be familiar with the history of the Labour party, which is, in essence, that of a working-class movement against inequality and for the rights of all people.
This movement has been accused of being anti-British, extremist, and dangerous from the very beginning, with a range of slurs against it. Clement Attlee the man who gave us universal education and health care, was characterised as too extreme by some in the post-WW2 election. As a result of being a broad coalition of those who want radical change to benefit everyone and those who want enough change to make their demographic benefit, it has blundered at times along the way.
But those "extreme" elements are the ones that gave us all the most important rights and cultural changes – from the right to form unions, to the right to litigate against discrimination, to marriage equality, and made the election of a Muslim British Asian to political office unremarkable.
Mr Mahmood's unfamiliarity with the concept of working-class radicalism is embarrassing for a politician whose party was founded on it. That he's now using right-wing culture-war tactics against (mostly) working-class people who simply want all humans to be valued and to end the bigotry and systemic inequality that threatens our wellbeing and our still survivable planet is tragic.
Full disclosure: I'm white, working-class, degree-free, disabled, and living in my home town in the northwest of England. And I'm not in the least threatened or offended by listening to and learning from and respecting the identities of others.
Things to come
It’s started already. The false self-praise, flawed logic and chest-beating.
Mr Johnson stated, while celebrating with Jill Mortimer in Hartlepool, his government's successes in, “delivering Brexit and rolling out coronavirus vaccines”. He did deliver Brexit, but it is not fit for purpose and will negatively affect Britain for years to come.
The coronavirus vaccination programme is a success and will save many thousands of lives, run by volunteers and the NHS. What he didn’t say was that he and his merry cronies could have possibly avoided thousands of unnecessary deaths caused by a total lack of foresight, preparedness and application of sound medical practices.
The Conservatives have been in power for a generation and one would think that there would be a marked improvement in our living standards. Instead, we are losing market share, jobs, financial clout while all the while slipping down the pecking order at the world’s table.
Mr Johnson and his cronies have no compunction about the damage they, and their divisive policies, have caused in the country. They continue blindly on their way doing just enough to remain “in power” and leaving office when their incompetence level is exposed.
The Labour Party performance was worse than awful. It was absent from the fray. Too afraid to espouse it's out of kilter policies, didn’t engage with the electorate and galvanised no excitement in its candidates for the election. Although these interim elections have limited effect on the public as a whole, they are an indicator of how the parties are doing in the public eye.
Therefore the top to bottom review Mr Starmer is to undertake must include scrutiny of himself and Labour’s policy-making procedure. He has but little time to change Labour’s direction in order to be a force in the country that challenges the Conservative stranglehold. Mr Starmer seems to have the ability to rattle Mr Johnson but he doesn’t have any troops with which to prevent the next election’s route of the party.
For the first time in my life, I am alarmed that our way of life will change for the worse under this Conservative party.
Come on Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, et al and give the Conservatives a real shock, which can only improve the way we are governed.
After the abysmal result of the local elections, my advice to Keir Starmer is – take up Welsh lessons, it’s your only hope.